I often wonder how much of our day we waste in asking ourselves and deciding on “What’s for dinner?” And how much frivolous money do we spend because we often don’t know or don’t have what we need to make what we want for dinner?
About 16 years ago (yes, about the time our second son came along) I decided that whatever amount of time I was spending on it was too much. I didn’t have that kind of time or money to waste. So I started a menu.
This plan is much easier to do in 1-2 week segments. More than that gets a bit overwhelming!
I just write down all the days and meals on a piece of paper and then start filling in the blanks. I always keep in mind our calendar; simple breakfasts on busy mornings, crock pot meals on crazy days, homemade bread on the rare days that I’m home… I also always buy one or two frozen convenience meal for those “I didn’t see that coming” days.
I try to incorporate any items (especially meats) that may be on sale that week into the menu.
Sometimes it is hard to think of that many meals. Sometimes I am just not inspired. While it is a BAD idea to grocery shop while hungry, it is MUCH easier to write your menu when you are hungry. There are weeks when I skip a meal, knowing I have to plan our menu later in the day. :o) I also keep a running list of ideas for menu items: recipes I read on my Google Reader or find on FB, things I have a craving for, meals the guys request…
Then I make the shopping list, including any items I need to make the meals on the menu, my convenience foods, any killer deals that I just can’t pass up that may be on sale that week, and of course any staples that we have run out of.
The hardest part of menu planning for me is writing it on the menu every morning. I started doing this to avoid the nearly constant question of “What are we having for….?” It really did work! Eventually they did learn that they could just look at the menu and see what we were eating that day. It helped that I refused to answer and instead just pointed at the menu until they got the hint and went to look. :o)
It may be a little more time and effort in the planning stages but the time you save on a daily basis is well worth it!